Youth pastor’s mantra: We don't compete with each other

Through his work at the Lafayette Baptist Association, Alan Harmon tries to encourage and equip youth ministers by hosting quarterly workshops.Alan Harmon doesn’t want to see any more lone ranger student ministers.

After all, he knows what it’s like to be one.

Harmon, who serves as associate pastor and youth pastor at Fanning Springs Community Church in Fanning Springs, is passionate about seeing youth ministry leaders equipped and trained for the job the Lord has set before them.

His own experience—coming up through the ranks of the laity to serve as youth pastor before he had any formal training—has made him especially sensitive to those who are trying to obey God’s call.

Through his work at the Lafayette Baptist Association as youth ministry director, Harmon has the opportunity to encourage and equip the youth ministers in his association through quarterly workshops that he’s hoping will bring youth leaders together.

“I have a heart for those who are untrained and inexperienced and trying to obey the call of God and minister to students,” Harmon said.

His compassion for youth leaders stems from his own struggle as a new youth pastor. Harmon recounts trying to do everything on his own—a lone ranger blazing a new ministry trail through the hearts and lives of students. But it wasn’t until about six months in that he began to make some deep connections with other youth leaders. That’s when he began to understand just what he had been missing out on while he was going it alone.

“Everything about my walk and my ministry was enhanced,” he said.

Harmon said insecurity and a sense of inadequacy can make inexperienced youth leaders think everyone else has it all together. The truth is that student ministry as a whole becomes more effective when churches work together.

“I love the guys in our area; we don’t compete,” Harmon said. “We each have something we’re strong in, and if churches would find out each other’s strengths and come alongside we could accomplish more together than apart.”

Billy Young, lead catalyst for Next Generation ministries at the Florida Baptist Convention, said student ministry leaders can sometimes feel isolated, which makes what Harmon is doing all the more valuable.

“Finding someone outside of your church to talk to that understands what you go through is a challenge,” Young said. “You can always do more with more people together.”

Helping student leaders do more effective ministry, and be encouraged in the process, is what keeps Harmon reaching out to the youth leaders in his area, visiting their churches and encouraging them with personal messages.

No one looking for community will be left out or left behind.

So long, lone rangers.

Nicole Kalil is the Jacksonville-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She can be reached by phone at 904.596.3169 or via email at 

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